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HIS SOLUTION: BUY THE SHOP

New Port Richey

Entrepreneurs often start with a problem and an idea for solving it. Here was Lou Search's problem: His favorite cigar store was about to close. His idea of how to solve it: Buy the shop. "The only thing I knew," he said, "was that I liked cigars." That was 23 years ago. Today, Search and his wife, Dotty, are still operating the Tobacco Hut, a tiny but popular cigar and tobacco shop in the Elfers Square strip mall. Dotty, 74, works the morning shift. Lou, 80, works afternoons. It's just the two of them, neither with plans to quit any time soon. Lou likes to say he'll retire "when Tom Dobies comes and gets me and carts me out." (Dobies is an undertaker. And a customer.)

Lake Magdalene

Employees take over Bearss Groves

A rustic produce business on Bearss Avenue has been sold to a pair of longtime employees.

Brian Murray, who has managed Bearss Groves for the past nine years, and Barry Lawrance, who helped start the business at age 13, took over on Jan. 1 from their former boss, Marty Bearss.

"I need to slow down a little bit," said Bearss, 55, who grew up working in the sprawling citrus grove next to the produce stand.

Murray and Lawrance have begun opening the stand on Sunday afternoons. And they have begun accepting credit and debit cards.

They want to expand the merchandise to include plants, milk, bread, eggs and seafood.

"These guys have been here the whole time, anyway," Bearss said. "Now, I don't have to be here at 7:30 every morning, and I don't have to be here at 7 o'clock at night."

Derby Lane sprints to add more options

The iconic Derby Lane, where greyhounds have raced for more than 80 years, plans to add concerts and movies as an entertainment option this spring.

"We have a ton of space," said Lorilee Goodall, director of business development for the dog racing track on Gandy Boulevard.

"There's more housing coming out here. There's more people. We need more entertainment."

Derby Lane's events will be scheduled on Sundays, when there is no dog racing, but poker tables and simulcast betting stations will be open to concert and movie patrons.

Goodall said she hopes to stage the first concert at the end of March.

Movies, shown on a 70-foot inflatable screen, will start the second Sunday in April and continue monthly after that in conjunction with a local radio station.

For concerts, the stage will be set up on the dog track with the venue capable of holding about 5,000 people.

"Parimutuels are in a decline all over the country - horse racing and dog racing.

"That's why we've introduced other things as well," said Derby Lane spokeswoman Vera Filipelli. "We're trying all new avenues to try to give the people what they're looking for."

Spring Hill

Home health care service has grand name

Granny Nannies. The name intrigues.

Grannies as nannies? Nannies for grannies?

A little of both, as it turns out.

Some of the caregivers for the home health care agency are grannies themselves, the eldest 70 and the youngest in her 20s. All are certified nursing assistants or registered nurses. Most provide life-caring functions to older grannies. Some of the certified nursing assistants are granny papas. Some recipients of care are grandpapas themselves.

The business opened in Spring Hill in May and has 20 clients. They are served by some 50 nannies who provide care, as needed, around the clock, says executive director Cindi Wilson.

A chain with 17 locations in Florida, Granny Nannies provides care for aging retirees who resist moving into assisted living facilities or nursing homes, preferring to share later life with their loved ones and among cherished furnishings and belongings.

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